I spoke to a group of nursing students this week on legal issues in nursing practice. I warned these future nurses you are more likely to reported to the State Nursing Board in your career than you are to named as defendant in a nursing malpractice case. I have them the following advice: Keep it LEGAL.
L Stay abreast of the Nursing Board laws and regulations in the state(s) where you practice or hold a license;
E Make sure you have the education, experience, and expertise to practice in a particular area by polishing
your knowledge, skills, and abilities in your practice area(s). Keep a nursing portfolio in your home.
G Good Behavior. Keep it professional at work. Refrain from criminal conduct in your personal life and at
A Associations. Join national, state, or specialty nursing associations and read the journals, guidelines, and
practice statements published by the association. This helps you stay abreast of the standard of care and
patient safety issues in your practice. Also nursing associations advocate for nurses.
L Liability Insurance. Consider purchasing your own individual professional liability policy with a reputable
insurance company which insurers nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals. Make sure the
policy has a license defense protection benefit to cover legal fees and costs in State Nursing Board
investigations and evidentiary hearings.
I wished the students my best because its a jungle out there in the cut-throat, at-will, non-union, and dog eat dog environment in some healthcare orgs. Anytime you have a profession/occupations dominated by women, it can be ugly.
I hope these soon to be new nurses have lady luck on their side and find employment in a decent facility, on a decent floor, unit, hall, or wing, with a decent nurse manager and nursing supervisors and charge nurses, with decent mentors and preceptors, and with decent nurse peers and colleagues who don't throw "new nurses" to the wind.